Wednesday, 17 August 2016

my skepticism of gender therapy

I continue to be a little skeptical of gender therapy but less so towards general psychotherapy.

Most of the issues transgender people face deal with the anxiety of living in a world that doesn’t accept them hence if no one interfered with their identity and allowed them to be themselves there would be far less need for therapy.

You don’t need a gender therapist to accomplish the task of liberating your psyche and arguably you can do it yourself through reading and reflecting on this subject. Of course I am now in my 50’s and it’s easy to say now but I suffered for many years until I found peace. But I worry that some therapists may too easily and unwittingly guide someone through a path that may not be right for them.

I can illustrate this first hand in my brief dealings with returning to the gender practice of Helene Cote. Even if she did not cajole too much she was encouraging me to join her group sessions and after some reflection I declined because I felt I might be too surrounded by people who were on their way to some form of transition which is something I wanted to resist. The danger whether real or imagined was that I might feel more empowered to follow down this same path.

I think that ultimately you are the master of your fate and gender dysphoria is something with no handbook and no medication that you can take to manage. Therefore you alone are in the driver’s seat and in control of your decisions.

Each day I am more of the opinion that many people would be happier with a freer range of gender expression rather than following a transition path while at the same time realizing that for others this is clearly not sufficient and they must transition.

The hard part is to understand where you are on that spectrum and that is not an easy thing to determine sometimes. What helped me was to take the slow and cautious approach and to spend many hours reflecting on who I was and what I wanted but that first required eliminating guilt and shame that I had amassed over all those years.

Without doing that first you won’t be able to think clearly.


4 comments:

  1. Therapy is no panacea and therapists come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. But without them and their help I'd be dead. My working out of my issues is on going but making definite progress. I could not say that for the first six therapists I saw over 30 years. I did try, really hard, to trust and open up. But I was so ashamed of myself and what I know now are my trans feelings that I assumed it was okay to keep those as secrets and "deal with" my depresssion without their being brought out. The therapist I've now been seeing for the last three years literally saved my life. But I did too in that I finally pushed so hard with myself to open up to him and later, to my wife. Unbelievably hard.

    I've also seen a gender therapist. She helped me by providing another opinion, experienced with trans people, and provided a lot of wisdom. I also attended some of her group meeting. As you say, most of the people were either transitioning or transitioned. So even there I felt smaller somehow, a little like not being part of the clique although they generally welcomed me. So I stopped going to those meetings.

    Thank you for writing your post. I hope that sharing a bit of my story will help others who read your blog too.

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  2. you are welcome Emma and thanks for sharing. Saying I have skepticism doesn't mean one should not go its just that there can be groupthink involved and you may be ushered into it when you aren't ready. I am glad the process is helping you find resolution...

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  3. So well said - I believe that therapist in the gender community try a one size fits all approach. I enjoy where I am at this point and feel that therapy likely would have taken me someplace else.

    Thank you - a very good discussion that hopefully will help others.

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